CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Charleston Church of God members don't have a permanent place of worship and they never want one.No building means no rent, utility bills, or upkeep costs, which allows them to serve the community even more, said Pastor Tom Wise.The church donates more than one-third of its weekly offering to local needy organizations such as the Charleston's West Side Food Pantry, Manna Meal and the Sojourner's women's shelter.The church got its start in October 2011. The parishioners outgrew their first location but they now meet at the West Virginia State University Capitol Center Theater on Summers Street every Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
"We give up a few of the comforts of having a building we can always go to but we don't want to spend money on building and maintaining [a church]," Wise said. "We want to increase our offerings every year but if we ever tried to buy a building it would ensure we couldn't do that."Charleston Church of God has a new, entertaining way to raise money. The group will host its first "Stories and Songs" concert on Friday."Stories and Songs" mimics VH1's show "Storytellers," where the artist sings and performs songs but also shares intimate stories between the music, creating a connection with the audience, Wise said.
"It's like a coffee shop-type feel. It's relaxing, not a huge production concert with lights and lasers," Wise said. Charlie Hall, a Dove award winner, singer and songwriter, will perform at the church's first concert.Wise said he has seen Hall at a couple Christian conferences and knew the Christian artist would be perfect for the church's first concert.When Hall heard that the church would donate all of the proceeds from the event, including ticket profits, to the West Side Food Pantry, he wanted to make it happen, Wise said."In the Christian world, he's one of the top artists around. There are others we could have brought in to be just about the music, but he just seems to be genuine and someone who would care and want to see some people helped," Wise said.The church plans to host "Stories and Songs" concerts at least twice per year, Wise said. Other ideas include utilizing the Haddad Riverfront Park, offering free concerts and even bringing in non-Christian artists to raise money."The main purpose is to raise awareness and funds for the organizations that already exist. We're not trying to recreate the wheel and start our own food pantry but we want to help people who are already helping those in need -- to bring those people together and enjoy the music and the community," Wise said."Stories and Songs" with Charlie Hall will take place at Charleston Church of God (WVSU Capitol Center Theater), 123 Summers St., Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $12. To order tickets, call the church at 304-382-4975.Reach Megan Workman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5113.